A Safe Haven Baby Box could be going up at Edgewood’s firehouse.
Councilman Dale Henson suggested Monday installing one of the boxes, where women in crisis can safely and anonymously surrender a newborn if they are unable to care for it.
“I read an article about baby boxes in our area,” Henson said. “The state of Ohio has six, there’s one in Delhi (Ohio), Union, Fort Mitchell has one. These boxes are climate-controlled, there is a bassinet, there’s a blanket, and there are alarms on it that trigger inside to let the firemen know that there is a baby there.”
He told council that a similar box in Carmel, Indiana, had three babies surrendered in six weeks, and since 2004 there have been 72 babies put into similar surrender boxes.
“There is an organization called Safe Haven, and they will either sell you the boxes, or this says they will lease the boxes for $200 a year to local government,” Henson said. “In light of the Roe v. Wade (a landmark 1972 Supreme Court decision guaranteeing access to reproductive rights which was recently overturned by the Supreme Court), we all know a year ago we had the sanctuary city issue come up, and we all felt, and correctly so, that at the time it wouldn’t have had any teeth to it, but this is something we could do proactively. This is something I think we should look at, and I think we should do it.”
Henson explained that a resident had attended a meeting last year to propose that the city become a sanctuary city for the unborn. At the time, Council did not feel that a designation like that could have any significant impact. A sanctuary city for the unborn would install a law that would outlaw abortion with the city limits.
Fire Chief Tom Dickman was happy to know that if a baby is put into the box, a 911 call immediately would go out to alert emergency personnel to the presence of an infant, because he said sometimes personnel might not be in the actual firehouse to get the alarm. Firehouses are staffed 24/7, but they are regularly dispatched to fire and emergency runs.
City Administrator Brian Dehner said it was his understanding that as soon as emergency personnel are notified, the child is taken to an emergency room at a hospital, and staff there is trained what to do from that point. He said Safe Haven is also notified.
Dehner said that he thought Dickman could call Fort Mitchell and find out how the whole thing works, and Dickman agreed that would be the next step.
“I think we just need council’s support to say go for it,” Dehner said, to a chorus of, “Go for it” from council.
Fort Mitchell Fire Chief Adam Fuller said they were one of the first departments in Northern Kentucky to take measures to get a baby box installed into the wall of the fire department.
“We worked through council to get the approval for the baby box,” Fuller said. “There was an anonymous donor who paid for the box, and businesses in the community installed the box.”
The box has been operational since Jan. 21. Fuller said the box is 42 inches wide by 38 inches tall, and inside the box is a bassinet, with a little mattress and a blanket. The box is climate controlled and after a baby is placed inside, the box locks from the outside.
As soon as a baby is placed inside, an alarm system is initiated to dispatch, and the infant is transported to the nearest appropriate medical facility.
Fuller was happy to hear that Edgewood is taking steps toward obtaining a baby box and recommended that more cities do the same.
“It is only a matter of time before they are used,” he predicted.
The state of Texas started the process in 1999 with the Baby Moses Law, or a safe haven law that was enacted to help mothers in crisis to allow them to safely relinquish their baby in designated locations where the child is protected and provided with medical care until a permanent home is located. These safe haven laws generally protect the parent from criminal liability, and allow them to remain anonymous, instead of prosecuting them for child abandonment.
At this time, all 50 states have safe haven laws, although there are some that differ on specifics.